UULM-MD Annual Meeting: Report from Karen Russell and Nick IntVeldt

As an affiliate of the UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland (UULM-MD), several UUCF members usually take part in its annual meeting, held at the beginning of each year’s legislative session. This year the meeting was January 28 and Karen Russell, Nick IntVeldt, and Monica Greene represented us. Steve Buckingham, as UULM-MD chairperson, presided. 

Below are Karen’s notes on the events of a very full day:

Address by The Honorable Brian Frosh, Maryland Attorney General: “Justice Issues Before the General Assembly”; he especially focused on:

  • Price gouging by generics manufacturers
  • Pre-trial Bail Reform bill (bail bonds are biggest parasite on the poor.)
Priority Issues: Because UULM-MD is made up of a small, but dedicated, group of volunteers, work is carried out by joining with like-minded groups and also by focusing on issues about which UU members in Maryland especially care. This year the issues selected are:
  • Economic Justice: Paid sick leave for all workers
  • Climate Change: Clean Energy Veto Override’ Fracking Ban
  • Death with Dignity: End of Life Options
  • Criminal Justice: Pre-Trial Release Reform; Transparency in Police Misconduct
Keynote: “Faith Based Justice in the New Political Era” by the Rev. Kathleen McTigue, Director of the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice (UUCSJ)
Afternoon workshop by Rev. McTigue: “Taking It Back Home: Talking Our Walk, Channeling Our Power” Example of what to say: “My faith teaches that we are part of an interdependent web of existence.”
Nick IntVeldt added personal thoughts about the afternoon workshop.
“Talking Our Walk …” was a very appropriate title. We were lead through some exercises in communicating our truths, and one involved constructing a single sentence that we could say if, hypothetically, we were ever interviewed (by a reporter, for example) regarding a particular issue. While one might be tempted to simply say something such as “I think it is immoral to ban Muslims from our country,” Rev. McTigue encouraged us to ground the statement in our spirituality as Unitarian Universalists. For example, the above could be rephrased as “As a Unitarian Universalist, I believe in the worth and dignity of every person, and for that reason I am against banning Muslims from our country.” That is a much more powerful way to convey the message, it speaks from our faith rather than just from our heart, and as a subtext it conveys that there is a whole group of people (even an entire religion) that believes in the same principle. I totally agree with the idea that this is a much more powerful way to be persuasive, as it comes from the speaker’s grounding in UU principles.
Also, I do see us working with UULM (and others!) on priority issues.  Since Steve Buckingham, the chair of UULM-MD, is a member of UUCF, we have a direct liaison with the organization. As a congregation we may want to put more emphasis on such liaisons as well as targeted activism given the current political landscape.

Many thanks to the four who attended the meeting and especially to Karen and Nick for giving us a taste of the day’s events and a model for expressing our values in everyday conversation. 

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